Daily Archives: January 9, 2015

From My Hometown

I haven’t done a lot of publicity with this blog, so I got surprised last night when someone I actually know started following me.  I wrote her on Facebook and thanked her for following me, and she replied and said nice things about the blog, but also said that she did not realize how bad I had it when I was young, either with my folks or with my peers at school.

The feelings her comments brought up were strange.  She is what I consider to be my oldest friend.  We met when we were three.  We went through preschool,  grade school, high school, and college at the same place. We varied at times how close we were.  In college, I dropped her with the rest of my hometown friends to embrace a set of friends I felt understood me better.  We’ve reconnected at various points over the years but just recently started talking again over Facebook.

The weird feeling was that here was someone reading that knows the people I talk about when I talk about my childhood.  It’s one thing for a stranger to read this blog and come away with an idea of what I’m talking about.  It’s another feeling knowing someone who thought they knew me reading some of the stuff I’ve posted.  I wonder how my harsh descriptions of my mom made her feel.  I wonder if she remembers certain events the same way I do.  I don’t know how to really explain the feeling.  I wonder who she will tell about the blog and what that person would think about me laying my life out here for all to see.  My immediate family doesn’t know about my blog.  I wonder how they would feel if they did.

The conclusion I came to is that this is MY story, and As long as I am as honest as I can be without hurting the innocent, I can tell it however I choose to.  Covering up is what we folks with mental illness have done for far too long.  So here I am  Read me.


Zumba: The Best Feel Good Exercise!

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I seriously feel joy and have a BIG smile on my face when I am doing Zumba, all 60 minutes of it! No kidding! It is really great exercise, you can burn up to 500 calories an hour. And for me, the music is a total mood lifter, puts a smile on my face every time! Here is the link to the video of the song from which these pictures are taken. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152591777357711&set=vb.587902710&type=2&theater

You work up a sweat, you exercise, you smile and dance, I can’t think of any more fun and effective way to exercise!


the bookquotevideosong linkdump

Books:
Kiss Me First describes how Leila, an awkward, computer-obsessed young woman, agrees to help a bipolar thirtysomething called Tess kill herself without detection by impersonating her online.Lottie Moggach

Leader notices interesting manic depressive traits: non-violence in sufferers who otherwise appear to be raging, a curious empathy and generosity, social and verbal dexterity in mania and a concomitant disintegration in the ensuing depression. Strictly Bipolar – Darian Leader.
Jennifer Niven’s ‘All the Bright Places’ Is a Rare Novel That Gets Mental Health Issues So, So Right. (A YA novel.)

At last, an interpretation of bipolar that has more than two faces (and no polar bears). This is Bipolar by J FLoRian Dunn of Phoenix, AZ.

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Video:
Stephen Fry’s Best Quotes
Robot Chicken – Bi-polar Bipolar Bi Polar Bear
Knives in My Throat: Documentary About a Black Woman – bipolar disorder & suicidal ideation

Songs:
Downtown Strut – Bipolar
Charlene Soraia – Bipolar
Freestyle Rap – Bipolar
Jitta on the Track – Bipolar

Quotes:
“I have manic depression. I obsess over everything,” Pete Wentz
“I have a bipolar personality, I’m my own worst enemy. I have devils inside that fight me.”  Phil Spector 
“I’ve had an awful lot of highs and they were great. But the price I’ve paid for them is pretty tough to accept and I’m not — I can’t pay that price anymore.” Margot Kidder
I flirt with not taking it — but I’m not stupid, because every time I’ve gone off the medication, I’ve had a breakdown.” Maurice Bernard

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I am not sure what the rainbow is for, since it only shows some states. Any ideas? Pity they didn’t call it bipolarainbow though. BaDUMtshhh.

Longreads: not bipolarish at all.
the itch nobody can scratch
the end of night
“Some people want me to be this warm and fuzzy person. All filled with friendly hermit wisdom. Just spouting off fortune-cookie lines from my hermit home.”
the strange and curious case of the last true hermit

More than Just Ink: How Tattoos Were a Vital Part of My Gender Transition

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Illustration by Jessica Krcmarik.


[The image features an androgynous person with light brown skin, flexing their bicep in a powerful pose. Their body has numerous tattoos, some geometric and others floral. They are wearing a chest binder.]

When I was younger, I never anticipated being the kind of person with tattoos. I have the pain tolerance of a goldfish, and I’m not exactly edgy or hip. I used to think that tattoos were reserved for rough and tough, leather-donning rock stars – which, if you couldn’t tell, I didn’t exactly fit the bill.

Yet today, I can’t imagine my body without tattoos.

I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 21, only a few short months after I got my first chest binder. I don’t think that is a coincidence, however; my tattoos were not a random decision, but rather, born out of a need to reclaim ownership of my body.


I felt as if I only knew my body on someone else’s terms.
I had been told what a “good body” looked like. I had been told what a “woman’s body” looked like. I only knew my body in light of society’s interpretations. And that pressure to conform made me feel empty, confused, and alone.

I knew what society wanted from me. But what did I want?

At first, I didn’t know that I had a choice. But as I reached my early twenties, it became apparent that the emptiness I felt wasn’t going away. “Woman” was a label I was given, but it was never a label that I chose. I didn’t know what the alternative was, but I knew that something had to give.

It wasn’t long after that I embarked on my transition. And as I progressed, my desire to be inked grew. I fantasized about the tattoos I would have, where I would place them, and what they would mean to me.

Exerting control over my body and making it my own was a central part of not only transitioning, but tattooing as well. A tattoo became as much a necessity for me as a chest binder or masculine pronouns.

Having some sense of mastery over my own body was much-needed after years of policing from others. I could still recall the pain of being told by an ex-partner that transitioning would make me ugly and unattractive to him; being told by family that short hair would be the worst mistake I could make; insistence from others that tattoos would ruin me. With every choice I made, it was implied that I was now damaged goods, a less valuable commodity when I dared to step outside of stereotypical “womanhood” and pursue my freedom of gender expression.

I started to question who my body really belonged to.

In spite of the backlash, I pushed forward. Because my body did not exist for other people to objectify, ridicule, or appraise. The value of my body was not about to be measured by somebody else.

When I finally got my first tattoo, I felt a kind of high that I didn’t think was possible.

For too long, it felt like society had created this barrier between my body and myself – telling me what a “good” body looked like, what I should strive to become, and all of the ways that my body was not enough as it was.

I spent hours, bottle in hand, tipping it back and wondering if my body was just a mistake. I had bruised knuckles from punching a reflection that I thought I wasn’t meant to have. I spent my showers looking at the tile on the wall, straight ahead, afraid of what I would feel if I looked at myself for too long.


But as the ink made its way beneath the surface, it was as if I was taking my body back – back from unrealistic ideals, back from gendered rules and roles and expectations, back from this notion that I could never feel happy as I was.

Through the pain of that first tattoo, I felt like I’d reached a breaking point. I settled into the vibrations of the needle, the lines being drawn onto my skin, and my blood warming up in my body. I hadn’t felt this grounded inside myself before.
Before that moment, I’d never felt the gravity of my own self, the space that I occupied, the presence that I held.

I was having an uninterrupted, honest conversation with my body – a body that, for too long, I declared my enemy. Or worse, something I painfully tried to ignore, avoided looking at, avoided knowing.


My tattoo became the gateway to self-love and empowerment.

My androgynous hair, my tattooed arms, my pit hair, my nose ring, my bound chest – these were all intentional choices that I made, directly opposing conventional notions of what was “attractive” and what I should want for myself.

I was self-made. And the act of “making” myself was the best thing I ever did for myself.

tattoos

Not afraid to show off my tattoos!

[The image features the author, Sam, with his arms raised and his hands behind his head. He is a white, androgynous person with dark-rimmed glasses and short hair. On his left forearm, he has a tattoo of a fox; on his right inner-bicep, he has an intricate feather tattoo.]

When I look in the mirror now, I see a body that is undoubtedly my own. It’s not a collection of parts, not a gender that I was assigned without consent, not a compilation of failings or “not enoughs.” I no longer see a body I am resigned to having; I see a body that I chose of my own freewill.

And as a transgender person, being able to reclaim a body that I did not feel belonged to me was essential to my transition and my healing.

When I look at myself now, I see a beautiful, complicated, queer body that is remarkable in its own right.


My tattoos were born out of a powerful realization that changed my life forever: the realization that I could abandon everything I was told was unquestionable, unfathomable, and impossible. Instead, I could become the person I’d always wanted to be.

Every tattoo on my body is renewed commitment to passionately pursuing my own notions of gender, my own vision of beauty, and my own truth.

And that’s more than just ink. To me, that’s a revolutionary act.

Sam Dylan Finch is a freelance writer and queer activist, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, a queer and feminist perspective on current events and politics. His Twitter can be found, unsurprisingly, at @samdylanfinch.

Visit his official website: www.samdylanfinch.com


AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have a Tumblr now! You can ask me questions there or follow me as I post random stuff that I like. Hooray!
Also, sorry about the initial spacing issues in the first draft. It’s fixed now.


Pen. Pencil. Sword.

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Those who live by the sword do not always die by it. Sometimes, they die in bed: of something much more drawn out. Henry VIII, of the multiple beheadings, and all those lovely ruined abbeys, springs to mind.

I spent a few years as a small-town journalist. During that time, I heard and wrote about several strange, even disturbing things. I also wrote a column expressing concern for a young woman who had abandoned her baby. In amongst “Letters to the Editor” complaining about bin collections, I received one from a reader who asked how I could hold such a clearly outrageous opinion.

I was surprised. I was also naive. Small town stuff. A tiny storm in a suburban ink pot.

Not a bloodbath in the Parisian equivalent of “Private Eye.”

A few thoughts amidst this chaos of horror:

1) Blasphemy laws: for gods’ sake, why?

Not everyone sees God the same way. We need to look past our own stained glass windows, and accept this. And then move on. Politely, and with compassion.

2) In less nervous times, people regularly said, wrote, drew, etc., things all the time which were:

a) contentious
b) deliberately outrageous
c) stupid
d) some combination if not all of the above

And the world and its hamster judged the speaker, writer, artist, etc. accordingly. Generally, by giving them the time of day. Or not.  It wasn’t always felt necessary to prosecute, let alone kill them. Or, indeed, ban the expression of their ideas.

3) At various points in human history, people of all cultures, faiths and opinions have gone over the top about books, cartoons, films, and the like. There have been many burnings, bannings, warnings and bleepings-out of words and images.

Those doing the burning and banning would probably say they were doing it “for our own good”.

4) As comedian Caroline Aherne’s character, Mrs Merton, liked to say, “Let’s have a heated debate.”

May our words be heated. Not our fires, to burn books with. Nor our forges, for turning plowshares into swords.

And may the pen prove the mightier.